A group of leading bishops and executives of ten church denominations, calling themselves Churches Uniting in Christ, are speaking out against legislation that defines Governor Matt Blunt’s proposal for Missouri Healthnet. The group says senate bill 577 is too vague and ill-defined. The Bishop of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Paul Stewart Senior, says, most significantly, the bill fails to restore cuts to Medicaid made in 2005.
Bishop Stewart says the state has a moral obligation to provide health care for its neediest residents. He says the state justified cuts in 2005 because of shortage of funds, but he says now the state should use its surplus to restore those cuts. The Bishop says, right now, charity hospitals are taking the fall for those cuts and are suffering financially. He adds that Missouri taxpayers are losing millions of dollars in federal money. Bishop Stewart explains that the federal government matches state dollars in health care and each cut in state funding means an equivelent cut in federal funding.